Rasmus Hojlund: Light of hope in the darkness of Man Utd
In a post on the FB page On Pitch yesterday, we sent you a screenshot of the ball Marcus Rashford, instead of finishing in an open position and 1 on 1 with the Galatasaray goalkeeper, chose to pass to Bruno. Fernandes, as a result, caused Man United to throw away a clear opportunity to score when the score was 1-1.
There is a very clear feeling that, after a series of days of being constantly “stoned” by the media for his too selfish playing style, only liking to shoot and not passing to teammates in better positions, Rashford against Galatasaray chose to do the opposite: try to create more for his teammates, instead of finishing even though it was an extremely delicious situation like the ball we mentioned above.
That is Rashford’s choice in the face of pressure and criticism, or evidence that “Doctor” is seriously mentally ill, depending on each person’s point of view. But the TRUTH is that the explosive Rashford with his “thinking inside” goal celebrations last season is not present at the present time. And if you need an example for Rashford to look at, reflect on himself and regain confidence, it is his new teammate Rasmus Hojlund.
Not only because Hojlund was the author of both goals in the loss to Galatasaray, but also because of this young man’s confidence and “fearless” attitude in the way he plays and fights.
The image of Hojlund rushing like a whirlwind in his left armpit, passing two Galatasaray players, before launching a delicate shot to beat veteran goalkeeper Muslera in the goal to increase the score to 2-1 for MU in the 67th minute, isn’t there something very familiar? Because that is almost similar to Rashford’s image in his superb performances last season: dribbling at speed, with strong penetration and precise finishing when facing the opponent’s goalkeeper.
Before Galatasaray, we saw a Hojlund playing youthful football: This guy had 2 chances, hit the goal twice and scored 2 goals. He had 4 attempts to pass the ball and succeeded 3 times. He also did not hesitate to throw himself into disputes: winning hand-to-hand combat on the ground four times, and winning air combat twice.
In September, after MU closed the deal for Hojlund from Atalanta for a transfer fee of 72 million pounds, the 6th most expensive in the club’s history, Hojlund’s big brother in the Danish national team, midfielder Christian Eriksen, said this:
“What kind of player is Rasmus? A strong number 9, that’s the first thing I can say about him. Rasmus has made great strides in the past few years and is building and improving to become Become a striker who can do everything well.”
Hojlund’s coach in Stuttgart, Christian Ilzer, also believes that the best way to exploit the qualities of the young Danish striker is to create maximum conditions for this young man to receive the ball behind the opponent’s defense. where Hojlund can take advantage of his speed and running skills to make a difference.
“He has good sprint speed and the ability to make quick decisions in any situation. Those are Rasmus’ great strengths.”
The 2-1 goal against Galatasaray exemplified all of Hojlund’s qualities: great speed, great ball skills, and great decision-making. But Hojlund himself preferred his opening goal in the 17th minute.
“Marcus (Rashford) knows I can keep up with his pace. And when I enter the box, I know that Marcus will try to get the ball within my range. I like to call this Rasmus’ signature goal.”
It’s too early to say which type of goal(s) will be the signature of Hojlund’s career at Man United, but the situations where Hojlund scores against Galatasaray is something we can expect in the way the “Red Devils” defeat attack the opponent based on the specific qualities of the Danish striker: a strong, direct, aggressive attack, perfect timing, going straight to the opponent’s penalty area and quick decision-making- standard.
Even when he scored a goal against Muslera in the 59th minute when Hojund was ruled offside, this 20-year-old boy also showed the surprising composure of a “number 9”: not controlling the ball in the first step perfectly in the position. Turning around, turning extremely smoothly, eliminating the defender following him before launching a strong, precise and accurate shot. It’s a calmness that we don’t find in Rashford these days, but is very present in Hojlund.
“I always try to look for high-value positions and today (against Galatasaray) I received the ball in those positions three times – if you include the situation where I was called offside. I knew I was brought to United to help the team score goals. And I will try every day, every match to do the best job” – these are Hojlund’s words after MU lost to Galatasaray.
There are still raw things about Hojlund and these were only his second and third goals in seven appearances for MU. Hojlund actually hasn’t “opened a goal account” in the Premier League, a tournament where the “Red Devils” are off to a bad start. But those are certainly interesting and potential “rudiments”.
Those raw materials – speed, strength, aggression, determination and goal-scoring instinct – are the foundation to create a killer No. 9 Hojlund – if MU-Ten Hag can find a stable system intending to fully exploit this guy.
The only concern: a stable system is almost non-existent at United in the years gone by after Sir Alex Ferguson…